Saturday, July 4, 2009

You can accept Jesus into your heart... or you can have what's behind door number two!

This is going to be a quick one. Apparently, a game show in Turkey offers contestants an opportunity to save their souls... and win a trip to the holy land of their choice.

In order to be eligible, you must be an atheist. And don't think they'll take anyone eager to get a free vacation: CNN reports that "Contestants will be judged by a panel of eight theologians and religious experts prior to going on the show to make sure their lack of faith is genuine."

I'm slightly unclear as how that would work. If you place your hand on the Bible and swear you're an atheist... does that mean you're lying or telling the truth?

While any religious competition is - by definition - offensive, the report certainly gives the impression that it's somewhat balanced, at least between the four represented faiths (Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam). Personally, I think the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster deserves representation, but those are a fairly good start.

And, frankly, I find the notion completely hilarious. Come on Fox: lets get a version started here in the states. Religious viewers would tune in to cheer on the converts; atheists would watch to laugh while the unrepentant shrug off arguments and testimony.

The best part is, relatively speaking, everyone goes home feeling like a winner: either they've found inner peace or their rationalist convictions remain intact. It's a personal choice, sensationalized with dramatic music and broadcast to viewers everywhere. What's not to love?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin: What the?

I've heard it said that politicians are often unfairly targeted for gaffes and mistakes. And, in some circumstances, there's actually some truth to that. Consider the sheer number of statements, speeches, and interviews granted by our leaders: anyone watched constantly is bound to make some mistakes.

But that's what makes Sarah Palin so fascinating. If anything, she spent the majority of the last year's election hiding from the press and public. Oh, she gave a few speeches and the occasional interview, but they were few and far between.

So you'd think that, given the brief glimpses we had, we'd never see her falter, never fail. You would imagine that anyone could be trained to appear competent on camera for a few minutes.

And yet, time and time again, Sarah Palin demonstrated a complete a total lack of knowledge and skill. If there'd ever been a chance of McCain winning the White House - and there's no indication there had been - she managed to crush it completely.

Not that she's really to blame. After all, they hired her. If they failed to find out whether she knew what the Bush Doctrine was, could name any bipartisan legislation that McCain supported, or even knew the names of common newspapers, that speaks volumes to their judgement and competency.

But the election is behind us, and Sarah has returned to where most of us thought she belonged: Alaska.

Apparently, Palin disagrees. In front of a spacious lake containing a pair of fighting geese, the hockey mom announced her resignation as governor of Alaska. The stated reason? Honestly, I watched the speech, and I'm still a little unclear. She seemed to say that, since she'd decided not to seek re-election, her continued presence would hurt the state.

Actually, I find myself agreeing with that, but probably for different reasons.

But I did find it interesting that she stressed a series of ethics complaints she's faced as a factor. Following the scandal of Mark Sanford, it's impossible not to wonder if there's something that has Palin worried. But that may be reading too much into that section. After all, the majority of the eighteen minute speech was borderline incomprehensible and meaningless: there's no reason to assume that portion was any different.

On some level, though, a scandal might be the least offensive possibility. Otherwise, she seems to have said that, since she has no interest in running again, the day to day job of being governor holds no purpose. Given that she claims her administration has accomplished a great deal, isn't that a contradiction? If she really believes she's doing a good job, why quit in the midst of her term? Perhaps the people of Alaska simply don't interest her anymore.

If I were an Alaskan, I think I'd be a bit insulted. Or maybe I'd just be relieved.